Council Rate Cap Bills Introduced
Uncontrolled rate hikes will soon be a thing of the past, as the Andrews Labor Government tables legislation for the Fair Go Rates system.
Minister for Local Government Natalie Hutchins said the Fair Go Rates system, to be delivered in time for the 2016-17 financial year, would give ratepayers greater value for money while ensuring councils remained financially sustainable and continued to provide essential services and facilities to their communities.
The Bill authorises the Minister to stop councils exceeding a cap on rates, based on the Melbourne Consumer Price Index (CPI) forecast.
If there are instances of continued and deliberate non-compliance, the Minister can determine that the rates or charges levied in that year are invalid and recommend that the council be suspended.
The Bill also provides the Essential Services Commission (ESC) greater oversight of council spending, ensuring ongoing compliance and monitoring of overall outcomes for communities
The move comes as new data reveals that Victorians have faced an average rate increase of almost 5.99 per cent every year for the last decade.
The Labor Government has proposed amendments to the Local Government Act 1989 to enable the Minister for Local Government to set a cap on rates and for the ESC to assess applications from councils to go above the cap.
If a council has a project that requires it to go above the rate cap, it will need to demonstrate to the ESC that an increase is warranted and that they have their community’s support.
Earlier this year the Government asked the ESC to develop a framework to cap council rate rises. As part of this work, the ESC extensively consulted with councils and communities across the state.
Ms Hutchins also established a Fair Go Rates Reference Group, which includes representatives from the local government sector, ratepayer organisations and unions.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Local Government Natalie Hutchins
“With an average six per cent rate rise every year for the past decade, it’s clear we need greater accountability for councils and greater value for money for local residents – and that’s what our Fair Go Rates system will deliver.”
“Our Fair Go Rates system will give communities a say and make councils listen.”
“I call on the Opposition to stand with the Andrews Labor Government and ensure a fair go for Victoria’s ratepayers.”